4 Ways to Prevent Lodged Corn

FBN Network

Oct 03, 2023

Lodged corn can cause significant crop damage and impact yield. While it’s possible to still effectively harvest lodged corn, taking a proactive approach with the following preventative measures will set you up to minimize damage and maximize yield. 

Causes of Lodged Corn

Several factors contribute to lodged corn, such as:

  1. Severe weather conditions, such as damaging thunderstorms, strong winds, heavy rain or hail. 

  2. High crop density, leading to competition for limited sunlight and nutrients. 

  3. Shallow or weakened root systems caused by disease, pests or poor soil conditions. 

  4. Unhealthy plant leaves due to leaf diseases and other pests. 

  5. Particular corn hybrids, which prioritize superior yields but sacrifice stalk diameter and strength. 

  6. High nitrogen levels, which can lead to tall and spindly corn plants.

  7. Rapid, late-season growth that causes top-heavy plants.

Types of Lodged Corn

There are two main types of lodged corn and both can have significant negative impacts on corn yield and quality. While weather related causes affect lodging, they cannot be proactively addressed. 

Green Lodging

Green lodging occurs during the vegetative stage, when the plant receives excess nitrogen or other nutrients leading to rapid and tall growth. The stems become too weak to support the weight of the plant, causing them to bend or lean. 

Green Snap

Drought conditions often lead to green snap (also referred to as brittle snap), which causes the plant to experience water stress during the reproductive stage when the plants fill their ears and approach maturity. The reduced strength of the stalks makes them dry and brittle. Green snap corn is a more severe condition compared to green lodging and can result in the complete loss of the affected plants.

4 Ways to Prevent Lodged Corn

1. Proper Nutrient Management

Avoid excessive nitrogen application during the later stages of growth. Consider splitting nitrogen applications to avoid nitrogen loss caused by poor plant stands and increased contact with the soil. Apply a portion of nitrogen before planting or early in the growing season, then apply the remainder as sidedress or topdress applications. To adjust fertilizer applications, use a nitrogen calculator to help increase yield and profit potential. 

2. Plant Population Management

Optimize planting density to ensure adequate spacing to prevent lodging and extensive damage. Overcrowding can lead to increased competition for resources and potentially lower yields. The optimal plant population depends on various factors, such as:

  • Soil type

  • Hybrid characteristics 

  • Local growing conditions

[RELATED: How to Evaluate Corn Stands for Replant]

3. Irrigation Management

Monitor current soil moisture levels using moisture sensors or field observations while also keeping an eye on weather conditions in order to provide sufficient and timely irrigation to plants. Soil that is too dry can lead to increased crop damage during harvest, while over-irrigation can soften the soil and make it more susceptible to damage from machinery. If the soil moisture is adequate, there may be no need to irrigate during harvest. 

4. Disease and Pest Control

Many corn diseases can also weaken corn stems, leading to lodging. Some hybrids have been bred to resist or tolerate certain corn diseases, such as gray leaf spot or northern corn leaf blight. 

If disease is already present, you may need to consider an appropriate fungicide treatment. You can determine the disease resistance of a particular corn hybrid by consulting tech sheets listed for all seeds available for purchase on FBN Direct®.

Lodged corn is also susceptible to insect damage from pests like corn borers and corn rootworms. When left unchecked, these pests will cause significant damage to crops. Consider using products like Willowood Lambda-Cy 1EC*, which contains Lambda-Cyhalothrin, and GCS Bifenthrin 2EC*, an insecticide containing Bifentrhin, which can be effective in repelling common corn pests like corn borers and corn rootworms. 

While insecticides can be effective tools, it’s also important to implement proper integrated pest management (IPM) practices such as crop rotation, planting resistant corn hybrids and monitoring pest populations to minimize the risk of resistance development. 

Prepare For Harvest with FBN Direct

FBN Direct has a wide variety of effective crop protection products, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides to help prepare for and manage a successful harvest. 

With transparent pricing, straightforward online ordering, detailed product labels and fast direct-to-farm delivery, FBN Direct can help you get the products you need to protect your crops. 

Related FBN Resources


  1. Stalk Lodging in Corn: Guidelines for Preventive Management | Purdue University

  2. Harvesting Lodged Corn | Iowa State University

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This content was written by Norm℠, reviewed and edited by Mark Wilson.

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FBN Network

Oct 03, 2023